With campgrounds opening up in Phase 2, we were excited to visit a few places close by for some socially distanced camping! While most museums, visitor centers, wineries, etc., were still closed, Northern California is full of wide open spaces, and we looked forward to some beautiful hikes, and a chance to visit a few relatives.
This trip took us on a 500 mile journey to Jackson and Auburn in the Gold Country, Jenner on the coast, Garberville in the redwoods, and Petaluma and Sonoma in the wine country. This post will cover our trip to Jackson and Sutter Creek.
We love the drive to Jackson, as we roll past orchards, vineyards, and rolling hills, on our way to the Sierra foothills.
Jackson is a rustic little town in the foothills of the Sierras. Since it is in the gold country, it has several old mining sites from the gold rush days. Before that it was home to Native American tribes, who still maintain sacred sites in the area.
In more modern times, a tribe has built a large casino with a great RV park about a mile away. The Jackson Rancheria RV park is one of the best in Northern California, and we like to base our explorations from there.
It has large beautiful sites and a walking path all around the perimeter. Its good, while walking, to keep an eye open for wildlife.
On this trip, we explored the town of Sutter Creek. It calls itself the Jewel of the Mother Lode, and millions of dollars of gold were mined from the surrounding hills.
To support this, Sutter Creek was home to a foundry still in operation today. The Knight Foundry is the last water powered foundry in North America.
We enjoyed strolling through the little town and stopping for coffee at Chocolatte.
On the way back to Jackson we had to pull over and admire this property, called the Amador Castle. Thanks to Google, we found out it’s the property of John Hertzig, a 72 year old who like to collect carnival rides and animal statues. He says it gives him something to do and gives people something to talk about. 🙂
Back in the town of Jackson, we also explored the mining history there in a previous trip (Post 67), including the Kennedy Mine and the Kennedy Tailing Wheels Park.
This time we went to Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park. This park has the largest known collection (1,185, to be exact) of bedrock mortar holes in North America. They were used by the Miwok Indians to grind acorns from the oak trees into a meal, which was a staple in their diet.
While at the park we took a nature trail that highlighted other local plants the Indians used.
As were were the only visitors to the park, we enjoyed a lunch at a picnic table and thought what life must have been like to live in such a beautiful place and living off of the land.
Even though many places were closed, it was so great to get away and enjoy nature in Gold Country.
Next on our Tour of Northern California is the historic town of Auburn, a visit with our daughter, and a hike along the American River Confluence. Onward!
Al & Deb